Hi guys, we have Jon Keys stopping by today with his upcoming release Obsidian Moons, we have a fantastic guest post from Jon, and a brilliant exclusive excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
After achieving the impossible and releasing their people from the Varas slavers, Anan and Terja, a spellweaver and spellspinner, start the arduous journey back to their homeland. A winter trek across the grasslands is dangerous enough, but the traitor, Xain, is tasked with recapturing the slaves, and failure will mean his death. As added insurance, the Varas High Regent hires a Triad of legendary Ubica assassins and assigns a full regiment of his personal guards, along with their captain, to the task. Their mission is clear: recapture the escaped Talac slaves destined for the Varas pleasure houses—and the bed of the High Regent—at any cost.
The newly freed Talac travel toward their homelands with the full knowledge they are likely being pursued. The flight westward is fraught with new and unexpected dangers as Anan and Terja struggle to save their tribe. The battle for shelter, food, and a way to defend themselves becomes an all-consuming task, but they are reminded by the avatars of their gods that all is not as it appears.
Hello, Pixie! Thanks so much for having me visit on the release of my newest novel, Obsidian Moons. This is book number two of the Obsidian series. This trilogy has a unique mix of high fantasy magic, unique characters, and world building. But one item that sets this series apart is the weapons.
I love historical weapons and I’ve set my story between two cultures, one Iron Age, and the other more primitive to give a variety of weapon choices. I didn’t hesitate to borrow from divergent cultures to get the variety of weapons I thought the story needed, Researching them was fascinating, but I particularly enjoyed the background of Anan’s sword.
It’s based on the maquahuitl, which the Aztec and other people native to central Mexico used. Historians of the age describe it as a wooden stave three to four feet long with blades of knapped obsidian fixed in rows down each side. They anchored the razor sharp obsidian blades in place with a variety of glues. Descriptions from the time note the blades being inserted in a way that kept them from breaking or coming loose. That seems amazing to me for an edge created by rows of thin, sharp rock.
Unlike some weapons that appear in many cultures, there is no European equivalent to the maquahuitl, but the Spaniards noted how effective it was. It had all the elements I was looking for as an armament for Anan as he fought his way back to Kuri lands. Ancient cultures have developed amazing skills to create weapons and tools to make their life safer and easier.
Abandoning the need for secrecy, Anan stood and drew his first arrow. After taking an instant to aim, he released. It passed his cheek with a hiss and appeared a moment later buried to the fletching in the cow’s side. Arrows from several other hunters appeared in quick succession. But the deeply buried shafts seemed to have no effect as she charged to her shakily standing calf. Her trumpeted challenge filled the air.
“The cow! Aim for the cow!” Anan yelled.
A flight of arrows were released and most seemed to find their target in the massive animal. The calf had fallen, fatally wounded. The cow nudged it with her muzzle, trying to get it back to its feet. She swung her horns in a lethal sweep to keep them away.
He drew another shaft, sighted, then released. His arrow became two as Morea shot her last arrow. Both buried themselves high in the cow’s chest. There was another low call, and Anan began to think they might finish this hunt without any injured Talac.
“Stay back. Her wounds are fatal. As long as we don’t press her, she may go down where she stands.”
Anan sensed relief traveling through the group as they started to relax.
A bellow sounded from one side, followed by a chilling scream that had to be from a hunter. Anan leapt toward the sound, hoping to save the man. He raced across a low ridge to find his worst nightmare. The bull had circled and returned to help the cow. He’d found their small group and impaled one hunter.
The man’s gaze locked on Anan for an instant, and then he shuddered as life left his body. Anan set his teeth and let fly with another arrow, burying it deep between the bull’s ribs. The huge male shook the body free, the forearm-long curved horns dripping blood, and turned on the hunters.
“Run! We cannot take this one down,” Anan said as he pulled another arrow from his quiver. The bull charged as he released. He tossed his bow to the side and grabbed his warriorglass sword in both hands. The jagged black blades lining both sides glistened in the weak sunlight.
He sent a message of comfort to Terja along their connection as he prepared himself for death. He hoped his sacrifice would give the others enough time to escape. There was no time to prepare or have regrets. The snowgrazer was only a few spans away and racing toward Anan. Adrenaline flooded his system and events seemed to slow. The bull lowered his head as he rushed to close the distance.
Suddenly his system flooded with raw matama, seeming to burn new threads through him. As it ripped open his spellsight, Terja commanded him.
He wove a barrier so familiar it required no thought. It covered the spans of grass between them and disappeared to Anan’s spellsight. And nothing happened.
Anan tensed as the bull ran and he could see only one, impossibly difficult, way to escape. He ran directly at the bull, screaming his battle cry. As the animal swung his head for the fatal blow, Anan jumped.
At such close quarters the reach of the bull’s horns meant little, and besides, Anan had reach too.
He twisted in midair and came down on the bull’s neck with a double-handed blow. The sword bit in deeply. A gift of the First Twining when they declared bloodweaving, it had proved its worth more times than Anan could count. Its bite was again deep and vicious, but it seemed to only anger the behemoth.
Anan landed and took up a guard stance as he tried to catch his breath. He waited for the next attack, unwilling to guess its outcome. Blood laced through the bull’s spittle as it roared another challenge. But this time the prairie resisted his efforts. He was amazed to see the blades of grass weave themselves around its immense legs. Fingercount after fingercount of tough plants tied the animal in place.
An arrow hissed past and buried itself in the snowgrazer’s ribcage. Anan felt certain the bellow that resulted would bring the entire herd to its defense. Twisting close, he used the distractions to dance under the animal’s neck and buried the warriorglass blades deep in its throat.
This time the wound he left was not inconsequential. Blood drenched his side as the thick arteries emptied. But the animal was not dead and seemed determined to take Anan with him to the Great Weaving. With a final lunge, he hooked the tip of his horn into Anan’s side and ran it to his shoulder.
The two separated.
Both fell to the ground, still.
Jon Keys’s earliest memories revolve around books. Either read to him or making up stories based on the illustrations, these were places his active mind occupied. As he got older the selection expanded beyond Mother Goose and Dr. Suess to the world of westerns, science fiction and fantasy. His world filled with dragon riders, mind speaking horses and comic book heroes in hot uniforms.
A voracious reader for half a century, Jon recently began creating his own creations of fiction. The first writing was his attempt at showing rural characters in a more sympathetic light. Now he has moved into some of the writing he lost himself in for so many years…fantasy. Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to drawing and cooking, he uses this range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.
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